Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Letter To Today

Letter To Today

Originally uploaded by nicodemus_chan.

My first letter to a newspaper (Today) published.

I couldn't help but write in to rebut another letter writer about saying scholarships help to teach financial independence.

I'm putting it on my blog for posterity's sake. After quite a few letters sent in to newspapers. It's my first one published. Seeing it in print does make you feel that you can make your voice heard in this world, and perhaps that you can make a difference somehow.

His letter and my reply...

Even well-off scholars need financial independence
Letter from Chen Junyi

I refer to Mr Thomas Lee's letter, "Review criteria for scholarships" (Aug 24), and wish to offer an alternative view to awarding scholarships based on merit alone.
A scholarship teaches students to be financially independent as the continued flow of funds depends on them maintaining good grades.
While well-off families can afford to sponsor their children's education, it also means that children still rely on their families for money.
However, an education is not only about doing well in school, but also mastering life skills.
When scholars are assigned to statutory boards or ministries after completing their studies, surely someone who has done well academically and learned to be financially independent would be better able to do their job and identify with the concept of earning one's keep?
My Reply:
I read with bemusement Chen Junyi's letter with the title "Even Well-Off Scholars Need Financial Independence." Arguing that scholarships are needed even for the well-off.
The reason presented is that the flow of funds from a scholarship will be maintained by only when grades are maintained. Because of that, he reasons a scholarship teaches life skills.
If that is the case, certainly the well-off parents can certainly institute the same kind of rules for their own children. "Maintain your grades or you're out of Harvard." "I'm only paying for your tuition, board and minimal allowance. If you need more money, get a part-time job."
His argument implies that well-off parents are soft, spoil their children and unable to discipline their own children and need an external institution to impose rules and maintain accountability.
Financial independence has nothing to do with the source of funds but the way that person learns to manage scarce resources.
It should be noted that multi-millionaire champion race car driver Michael Schumacher only gives his own children two euros per week. How's that for teaching financial independence?

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